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New York Times purchases startup consumer guide Wirecutter for $30m

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By Laurie Fullerton | Freelance Writer

October 25, 2016 | 2 min read

The New York Times will pay $30m to purchase The Wirecutter, a five-year-old online consumer guide, including retention bonuses and other payouts the newspaper company announced Monday.

Brian Lam
Brian Lam

Brian Lam, a former editor at Gawker Media’s Gizmodo, founded The Wirecutter in 2011 and has self-funded the company’s growth, the article notes. The Wirecutter provides recommendations for electronics and other gadgets. It also owns The Sweethome, a title which takes the same approach for home appliances and other gear.

Both sites make their money via affiliate links, which generate revenue when consumers click on them and make purchases via e-commerce sites like Amazon.

Digital publishers have become increasingly interested alternative ways to grow online revenues as the margins get smaller. The Times itself saw digital ad dollars drop 7 per cent last quarter, citing “declines in traditional web display” spend.

Following the acquisition, Lam will stay on in an advisory role, while Jacqui Cheng, editor-in-chief, and Christopher Mascari, product director will remain in those roles. Ben French, vice president of NYT Beta, will serve as interim general manager and will work to integrate The Wirecutter and The Sweethome into The Times Company.

“The New York Times is the perfect home for The Wirecutter because of our shared love and commitment to reader service and public good through rigorous reporting," Lam said. "And most important, we're thrilled to have the chance to help Times readers find great gear that can improve their lives.”

“We’re very excited about this acquisition on two fronts. It’s an impressively run business with a very attractive revenue model and its success is built on the foundation of great, rigorously reported service journalism,” said Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company. “The New York Times is the definitive source for news, information and entertainment and now we’re working on becoming an authoritative destination for service journalism, with verticals like Cooking, Watching and Well."

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